Friday, January 30, 2015

Inquire Within


Someone asked me recently why I was so in to meditation, mindfulness, and yoga.  They couldn't quite understand why it was so important to me and why I couldn't find support and peace through other activities.

The only answer I could muster was, "It's personal."  It's the only answer appropriate.  It's the only truth.  We do this for our selves.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Flow of Meditation

I knew yesterday would be off.  I knew it because I didn't wake up until 11:30 am, and groggily sat in confinement until I legitimately woke up around 12:15.  My body was not feeling it.  Though I managed to get what needed to be done checked off of my list, I felt really unproductive and restless. The words from a recent conversation ran through my head, as did the song They Move On Never Ending Tracks of Light by This Will Destroy You.  Well, not so much the "song" but the melody. The song is listed in my playlist there to the right-hand side and it is definitely a favorite.  I couldn't shake it even if I wanted to.

It begins beautifully, simply, and growing.  It's steady, calming, yet energizing.  Then, as it begins to build, something in me happens.  Whatever I'm doing or thinking about becomes accelerated and excited.  And as the music changes, the rhythm evolves, and the tune become so much more than the gorgeous guitar, the distractions come into play.  There are the little twitches, squeaks, clicks, and creaks.  And they're just subtle enough that you probably don't pay them any attention, yet obvious enough that they take the song completely off course.  And it's good.  That kind of diversion is awesome.

Because of my off day, I knew my nighttime routine was far more valuable than on any other regular day.  Though I can handle meditation on my own without much to keep me focused, I truly, honestly, passionately love my musically supported meditation.  I like imagining that my mantra are the lyrics to this beautiful song.  And, to me, they are.

Tonight, the lyrics rang out, I guard my heart.

It's a constant thing to go through when you're single and actively dating to go through the frustrating ebbs and flows of relationships.  The emotions of it.  The frustration of loss.  It's been a constant theme of mine since this fall and I'm working to regain myself and my heart.  So the I guard my heart has more of the "be careful" and "be cautious" undertones than what you might have initially thought.  There's no wall up to guard it.  I want to let people in.

Anyway, as I'm reciting I guard my heart and feeling the swell of the music, the 'lyrics" magically changed to I guide my heart and there was no need to try to get back on track with my initial mantra.

Just as the most beautiful songs steadily grow and evolve into something so magical, so does the rest of life.  The key is to have that adaptive practice to allow you to move on when the bridge changes and the tempo quickens.

Namaste.

**By the way, you should really listen to that playlist if you haven't already.  I should update it with the newer songs that I'm in love with, but it really has some great stuff on it!**

The Yoga Beast Blog & Mala Collective Giveaway!


Have you ever looked back over the course of events in your life?  I'm talking about the kind of events that, at the time, seem so dire, so bleak, so sad, and so not worth it?  You know how it all eventually makes sense as to why you had to go through that time and frustration and you find happiness?  This is one of those moments.

To briefly summarize, I had found a small introduction to yoga, which lead to finding someone special, someone special who was also into yoga but at a different level than mine, which lead to an introduction to malas.  He couldn't really tell me about them, so I did my own research.  I spent days, weeks even, reading online, virtually window shopping different websites, and gaining my own knowledge about their significance.  I wound up losing the someone special.  I wound up losing a lot more that just him.  But I'd found a significant source of strength and support after finding and purchasing my first mala bracelet from Mala Collective.

I've built a nice little collection of malas that I'm wearing 24/7 (except for my necklace, of course) and from them I'm finding continued support.  I write about it all time.  I write about how they influence my decisions, behavior, attitude, thoughts, speech, etc..  I write about how they give me strength in times when I don't think that I can handle the ebbs and flow of life.  They are part of me.  In everything.  In every way.

I've also found immense support from my Mala Collective family. They are some of the kindest people I have ever met and I know that they genuinely
care about the people that their blessed malas. Rachael, you are a kind soul and I am grateful for the opportunities that you've given me.  Though I've only had one blog post published on your site, I'm so grateful for freedom of creativity that's accompanied the strength I've found.  They've also made me an affiliate for their company, which totally rocks my world.  I love being a part of this family and company, even in my own small way.

The kindness of this company doesn't end there.  They want to be nice to you, too!  That's why we're working together on a giveaway. You now have a chance to win your very own mala necklace to add to your own meditation practice, mindfulness practice, or even to wear because it's just so darn gorgeous.

If you'd like to win the beautiful Ocean Turquoise Mala that we are gifting, make sure you do the following:

1.  Follow @theyogabeastblog on Instagram
2.  Follow @malacollective on Instagram
3.  Repost the picture on Instagram with #TheYogaBeastBlog & #MalaLove
4.  Tag two friends who will win a special gift from me if you win

The giveaway will be open from today, Monday, January 18th, through Friday, January 23rd.  A winner will be chosen at random, and announced on Saturday, January 24th.

Best of luck and namaste!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"It" Happens


Well, it's been confirmed.  Try as hard as I may, I wasn't fooling anyone into thinking that I had "it" all together.

It didn't matter how great of a hair day I was having, how put together my outfit was, how many people I smiled at in the halls at work, and how much of my checklist I completed, how many cars I let into traffic ahead of me, because I couldn't deal with "it".

But it all became worth it today when someone noticed and mentioned that my practice has changed me.  She said that I was still the same, but not.  She said that whatever I was doing with my practice had made me more capable of dealing with "it".

While my practice isn't for anyone but me, it felt nice to hear that someone had acknowledged the change I was internally working on and hoping for.  And while it was nice to hear that she thought I could handle "it" better, it felt even better to realize that yes, I was handling "it" better.  Everything I'd focused on, thought about, physically practiced, mentally practiced was totally helping with "it".

"It" is life.  "It" is everything life throws our way.  Stress.  Relationships.  Works.  Health.  Anxiety.  Love.  Happiness.  Sadness.  All of "it".  And I'm finally handling "it".

Friday, January 9, 2015

How To Use Mala Beads for Meditation



The awesome gang over at Mala Collective have the BEST video series that you can rely on if you're new to meditation, mindfulness, and using mala beads. Not only do they want to provide you with beautiful beads to enrich your life and practice, but they want to provide education as well!  It's easy to come into meditation not knowing anything but stuff you see on TV.  You might think that it's just sitting around and chanting "Om".  And you're kind of right!  It really can be that simple.  It can be even simpler.  

I have had the hardest time sleeping lately, and last night was no exception.  I fell asleep, quickly, and stayed asleep, but I woke up feeling devoid of rest.  It put me in the worst mood.  The worst!  And I knew I needed to snap out of it.  I followed my normal routine, and as I jumped in the shower, I followed the example set by Mala Collective co-founder Ashley Wray.  In an interview I read on Lululemon (Mala Collective now sells through them....how rad is that?!?), Ashley mentioned that she meditated in the shower, whilst shaving her legs, reciting her mantra with every razor stroke.

Now, when I'm in the shower, I usually have my best conversations.  I think about what I could have said in a certain situation.  All the time.  And for the last few months, it's usually been about what I would say to a certain someone if a certain situation were to arise between us again.  Honestly, it's unhealthy.  So, to wash that man right out of my hair (see what I did there?), I meditated while I was in the shower.  It completely helped me rid myself of the negative influence and impact he's had on me, and helped me stay focused, present, and mindful.

Starting my day with a little warm and wet meditation was perfect.  It set me up to remember my intention, my mantra, and to be the strength and blessing associated with my malas.  So when my day started to slow at one point and I found my mind drifting from the tasks and piles of paperwork in front of me, my hand drifted to my neck, rolled a few beads around, and I got back on track.



As I say that, I'm realizing that my hands drift to my Surfer Mala on their own.  They do it when I'm stressed about something.  They do it when I'm deep in thought on how to handle a situation. They do it when I have a self defeating thought come to mind.  They do it when I just need a little peace.  They do it beautifully.

Friday, January 2, 2015

It's Friday, I'm In Love: Buddha Teas

If you ready my other blog, TheFitBeast.blogspot.com, you know that I do product reviews and love to feature them on Fridays a la The Cure's "Friday, I'm In Love".  I had to share the most recent product review on here, too, as I know that a lot of you are in to tea and its benefits.

My love affair with tea began as a child.  My earliest memory of sipping a warm cup of tea was on a rainy day in Phoenix, Arizona, and it was peppermint tea.  It was like liquid candy sunshine.  Warm. Sweet.  Soothing.  And I felt like such a big kid getting to drink something so seemingly adult.  Next, I tried chamomile.  It wasn't nearly as sweet as I wanted it to be and adding a little honey seemed so naughty and good.  Passion Tea wiggled its way into my lemonades at Starbucks, as did their skinny chai lattes, and I even tried random combinations like vanilla and blueberry, pomegranate black tea, blends to help me sleep, and blends with kava kava to help me chill out and simmer down a bit.  And then I read an article on the kitchn, a few years ago, about what's really in our tea.  My love affair totally changed.

It worried me that I was blindly/possibly drinking something harmful in something that seemed so therapeutic and soothing.  We all know that the FDA allows a certain amount of dirt, bugs, and excrement in our food (one of many reasons why I eat a clean diet as much as possible), so it's only natural that the same screening process is loosely applied to mass produced teas.  So, naturally, I applied my clean eating to my teas and only bought organic teas.

So you can imagine my excitement when I was contacted by the delightful people from Buddha Teas about trying their certified organic teas!

Unlike companies that process even their natural flavors and even disguise them to make them all taste uniformly, Buddha Teas lets nature take its course.  It made complete sense to me when they explained that their natural teas will vary in flavor.  Take a carrot, for example.  Did you know that the longer it stays in a relatively cold ground, the more sugars will develop in it and it will produce a sweeter flavor?  Pull a carrot too soon and it might not taste as great as a carrot that you let linger longer. In all of my years of gardening, I've never known fruits, veggies, and herbs to all taste uniformly alike.  It's the exact same with tea.  A batch of chamomile tea may taste different weekly, monthly, and yearly.  And that's okay!

What I really like about Buddha Teas is that the flavors are so incredibly natural.  They don't taste overly perfumey or fake.  The subtle layers come out the longer it steeps and, I'm confessing, I often continue to add hot water to my mug once it's been emptied because the flavor of the tea doesn't fade as quickly as those other fake teas.

The two flavors I've been sipping on lately are the Calm Buddha Blend and the Skinny Buddha Blend.  As to not give you a biased opinion, I've distributed a bunch of the bags to my fellow tea drinking friends and coworkers.  We are unanimous in our opinion.  They are AWESOME!



Calm Buddha Blend:  Okay, I was a little scared to try this blend, but only because other like it that I've tried have been absolutely horrible and mostly because of the kava kava.  I mean, it felt like I was
drinking a tea that had been steeped in a pair of dirty pantyhose.  Seriously.  So I was pleasantly surprised with my first sip, then my second sip, and now my box is almost empty!  Gotta remember to order some more!  It's a really beautiful blend with chamomile, cinnamon, lavender, kava kava, passion flowers, and spearmint, and I sip on it almost constantly at work to stave off the inevitable stress.  A friend that I gave a few bags to said that it worked so well that she wanted to cozy up for a nap because of how soothing it was.

Skinny Buddha Blend:  This one blew my mind.  I honestly can't believe that I love it as much as I
do, mostly because it's green tea and I've never, ever, ever liked green tea.  I cannot get enough of this blend.  The flavors.  Wow.  You can seriously taste the cranberry, lemongrass, and hibiscus.
 Distinctly.  At least I can! The pounds aren't melting off me, but there is no one food or drink that will make that happen.  But did you know that if you were to swap out 1-2 cups of green tea for that daily sugary soda, you'd save over 50,000 calories?  That's over 15 pounds.  Just make sure you're not sweetening your tea with sugar or honey.  But you don't need to sweeten these.  The natural sweetness and crisp flavors and just perfect the way that they are, the way that nature intended them to be.

There are loads of flavors to choose from and I'm incredibly impressed with their selection.  I'm lucky to find a few flavors of USDA certified organic teas at my grocery store and a girl can only drink so much chamomile tea!  With everything from green tea, black tea, root tea, leaf tea, berry tea, bark tea, seed tea, caffeine free tea, and flower teas, there is seriously "something for everyone".

Also, they don't bleach their tea bags!  Why is this important?  I'll let Buddha Teas tell you that.

The Importance of Bleach-Free Tea Bags

Tea bags that have been chlorine-bleached contain harmful chemicals such as dioxin and epichlorohydrin. These chemicals are commonly found in processed tea bags and have been proven to increase the risk of disease. When epichlorohydrin comes in contact with water it can hydrolyze into a carcinogen and further studies have shown us that chemicals like dioxin, which is also a potent cancer causing chemical, can remain in our bodies for as long as 11 years. We believe that good quality teas should improve well-being and detoxify the body, which is why we are very attentive in making certain that no chemicals go into our teas.
We proudly offer bleach-free tea bags so that our customers can taste the purity of beneficial teas without the cost of any additional chemicals or additives. Furthermore, our tea bags are also heat sealed without the use of harmful glues or binding agents.
So go visit Buddha Teas and find out why this beast is all a buzz about these blends!
Eat clean.  Live lean.  Live better.  Live longer.